Sometimes we encounter a fork in the road that demands us to make difficult or extreme decisions. Our goals change, & we have diverse priorities in different periods of our lives. These decisions can impact all spheres of our lives, including those around us. They are not petty things like what to name the cat or which TV to buy; instead, they are points where we have to distinguish opportunity from risk. Examples can be decisions about a career change, buying or selling a house, ending or beginning a relationship, which insurance to buy & many more. However, Making Difficult Decisions in Life is a thing we need to do often.
How To Make Tough Decisions in Life
1. Look Beyond The Moment
A definite sign of immaturity is the inclination to make choices with only the current moment in mind. Tough decisions need to look at an instant gain from a specific choice and its potential long-term profits.
Sometimes we have to pay a small price for the short-term gain, but the long-term gains could far offset the instant sacrifices. Think of a child with a pocket full of allowance money who chooses to save his money to purchase a bike instead of buying candy or comics whenever he feels like it. The same principle applies to adults tackling the enticements of daily desires against achieving long-term goals. The moment will pass, but will you still be sure about your choice next week or next year?
2. Try To Focus on Your Outcomes
What is the result you are trying to get? Why do you want to attain it? You must be clear about your outcome(s) & its/their order of significance to you. Visualize your goals & make sure that whatever your choice is in line with your values & purpose. With this clarity, making hard decisions becomes easier. Visualizing your goals “tricks” your brain to think that you have already accomplished them.
Remember, reasons come first; answers will follow. If you don’t know why you are choosing to do something, your brain will send you mixed signals & you won’t be able to follow. The first step toward Making Difficult Decisions in Life is to get as precise as possible about what result you want to get out of that process.
3. Know Your Options
Note down all of your options, including those that may seem far-fetched. Remember: One option is no option. Two options are a difficulty. Three options are an option. Document all possible options, whether you like them or not. You may even have some choices you need to be made aware of. It is an excellent idea to get some outside perspective from someone who has experienced a similar issue, like a colleague, family member, or friend.
They can offer relevant solutions. Even if you don’t take their idea directly – it may not be suitable for you – some alternative perspective can still inform your decision. The more options you have, the more confident you will be. Moreover, they can help you achieve your goals through proximity, motivating you to take risks. It is the best option for Making Difficult Decisions in Life.
4. Evaluate “Head Choice” Vs “Heart Choice”
A “head choice” is a decision that makes a lot of sense rationally, while a “heart choice” appeals to your soul & meets a longing. Heart choices cover your passion & emotion.
Often, heart choices are made without careful reflection because they feel good at the time & bring an emotional high, although short-lived. A bad relationship mistake can be made overnight because you only consider short-term advantages. Yet, someone who chooses a partner from the “head choice” perspective aims to check off definite traits & ideals from a list. The best decisions always have both emotional rewards & make coherent sense as well. It is the best option for Making Difficult Decisions in Life.
5. Consider If You Could Survive If Failed
Once you decide which path to take & you follow it with all your strength, what if later you realize you made a mistake? Can you survive even if you think you failed?
It is significant to consider the cost of failure – not just the financial cost, but the emotional damage & the lost time & energy. While some discontent comes with many decisions we make, it is vital to assess our flexibility & coping skills when things don’t work out the way we had imagined. Choosing a path that would wreck you if the outcome were unproductive is probably not a good choice.
6. Do a S.W.O.T. Analysis
After you are clear about your options, do a S.W.O.T. (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis of each choice. Note down the strengths you can show while going for that choice, your weaknesses while pursuing that choice, what opportunities you can have from the choice & ultimately, the threats you may face.
By doing that analysis, you can have a clear picture of these four significant aspects of each choice in hand. Try to figure out which option you can choose while employing your strengths to open maximum opportunities while facing minimal threats.
7. Notice If You Are Procrastinating
While thinking things through is perfect, you don’t want to procrastinate when choosing a path. When you take too long to decide, that instinctive wisdom may wither beneath the weight of your willingness to prolong the scenario after the hard decision. We start to overthink & see things through the lens of doubts, ego, the opinions of others, & limiting beliefs.
Taking longer to decide allows us to slip into what’s comfortable instead of what may be right. A truth about humans is that our nature is to recoil from boldness & adventure, & bend toward likeness. Most of us want to do tomorrow what we must do today. If we neglect something for too long, that inclination can take over our decision-making.
8. Try To Reduce Stress
Before taking a hard decision, asking someone not to be stressed is like asking an angry person to calm down—that is not helpful. But if there are ways you can reduce the constant stressors in your life, it could keep you from cringing when it is time to pick a path.
When you are stressed, your brain uses the more significant part of its energy to help you complete basic tasks, like sleeping & eating, leaving little energy for high-level thinking. Try to establish as much constancy as possible in the main areas of your life—career, finance, relationships, family, etc., and look for little ways you can relax your mind & reduce stress throughout the day.
9. Be Sure to Stand by Your Choice
After you have made your decision, it is normal to second-guess that choice. But that doesn’t show your decision was wrong—it is more likely you are thinking about the cost that comes with your decision, & that is a normal part of the process.
If you wonder whether you did the best thing, remind yourself there is no ideal choice, you chose what is beneficial for you & people around you if you have given the time & thought that the decision demands trust in what you have decided & move forward.
10. Keep Things in Perspective
Keep in mind that in either decision you make, there may always be positive & negative responses. Sometimes you decide & leave feeling as though you have selected the right option. Sometimes you may make choices that make you feel doubtful.
These decisions offer an excellent opportunity for growth. You can utilize these times to focus on what you have learned from the situation & remember that though the situation may be different from what you had wished, you can always work to change it.
Why Do We Try to Avoid Making Difficult Decisions?
Decision-making can be demanding. Some decisions are stressful because they are complicated. These might be options with very high stakes or widespread consequences, &/or those that deal with unpleasant or mainly disagreeable options.
But unfortunately for all of us, the stress that comes with decision-making is not limited to a particular category of “difficult decisions” that we face only sporadically. All types of factors can make even low-stakes, everyday decisions seem difficult & stressful. They provide a significant reason we try to shun away to make difficult decisions. Eventually, the process of Making Difficult Decisions in Life we must face.